May 14, 2014 4:42 pm

Heated debate over southwest ring road sparks up again

CALGARY- Hot off the heels of a heated debate over the controversial cycle track, city councillors are now divided over the future of the southwest ring road.

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During a committee meeting on Wednesday, some council members called for a meeting with the province, aimed at stopping construction on the southwest leg of the ring road. That $5 billion in savings could then be used for other transportation needs like new LRT lines.

“Movement of goods and services—and Calgary being an inland port of significance—is accomplished by existing legs of the ring road we have now,” says Ward 9 councillor Gian-Carlo Carra. “The other thing we know about ring roads is they spread development outward, and we are already in a situation where we have way more expenses than tax base to cover it.

“Anything we build that will promote people living further and further outside our tax base and commuting in and not being net contributors to city coffers is sort of scary.”

He adds he’s concerned about if it’s the best way the money could be used.

“Those two things are driving my questioning as to whether we could take this massive amount of money, and funnel it into something that makes more sense.”

However, those in favour of the 32 kilometre roadway say there is no point in killing a provincial project that has minimal costs to the city.

“I have a ring road where I live, and all the people use it on a regular basis,” says Ward 1 councillor Ward Sutherland. “It cuts travelling time down in half depending on where you are going to go, but we also have to remember it’s also cutting traffic on other roads that are already heavily congested.”

The only costs the city is incurring on the project is $133 million, to build connection roads.

“I guess we shouldn’t have any ring roads, and everyone should drive through downtown, and we wouldn’t have any congestions,” he added, sarcastically. “We shouldn’t build a highway across Canada because it costs too much.

“[The argument is] ideology driven, and I have an issue as it’s not a practically intelligent debate as far as I am concerned.”

The city faces a $1.9 billion shortfall for infrastructure funding over the next decade.

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